BRIMFIELD TWP. — A slow start filled with too many turnovers and not enough made shots was too much for Cloverleaf’s boys basketball team to overcome Friday.
The Colts battled back with everything they had, but when sophomore Nate Riley’s lunging heave slammed off the right side of the backboard as the buzzer sounded, Field snapped Cloverleaf’s four-game winning streak with a 54-53 Portage Trail Conference Metro Division victory.
“It’s just energy,” Colts guard Brycen Holliday said. “I think we came out with something to prove in the second half after that lackluster first half, but we’ve got to play four quarters of our brand of basketball and not let their pressure defense rattle us.”
The loss overshadowed the fact that the Colts erased a 14-point deficit in the third quarter and nearly washed away a nine-point hole in the fourth.
Cloverleaf (6-5, 3-3) committed 11 turnovers and made just one field goal, a drive by junior Matt Tanko with less than three minutes left in the first quarter, to fall behind 9-5 after the first eight minutes.
Things didn’t get much better in the second period, as Field (2-7, 2-4) applied enough pressure to make things difficult on the Colts and the Falcons extended their lead to 26-13 at intermission.
Field junior reserve Logan Citraro sank a pair of foul shots three minutes into the third quarter to put the Falcons ahead 32-18, but an impressive show of determination brought the Colts back from difficult odds.
Senior Nick Bailey made a basket to start a 17-0 run over most of the remaining third quarter. Five players scores for Cloverleaf in the spurt, with Holliday getting five of his 13 points on the night and Bailey and Tanko adding four each.
“The kids responded when their back was against the wall and played like they were supposed to,” Colts coach Jack Banks said. “That’s the disappointing thing. If we had played like that in the first quarter, we wouldn’t have had this issue.”
Junior center Sylar Jones drove to the basket and made a shot through contact with 36 seconds remaining to pull the Colts within a point at 32-31. When he missed the foul shot, Bailey grabbed the rebound and got the ball to Tanko to give Cloverleaf a 33-32 lead. Junior wing Cruz Severson hit a pair of foul shots to extend the lead to 35-32.
“We stopped settling for jumpers and little floaters and we got to the rim and started getting fouls called,” said Tanko, who scored a team-high 14 points.
Field guard Jaheim Jones, who scored a game-high 16 points, made two free throws to close the quarter and start a 13-1 run by the Falcons. Jones also capped the run with another set of foul shots that put Field ahead 45-36 with 2:42 left.
Cloverleaf got within striking distance from the line before Bailey hit a shot with 12 seconds left and Severson stole the inbounds and quickly put the ball in the basket to cut the deficit to 52-51.
Falcons senior Carter Baumberger hit a pair of free throws and Severson countered at the charity stripe to make it 54-53. Baumberger then missed two foul shots with 2.6 seconds left to set up Riley’s attempted buzzer beater.
Contact John Urchek at email@example.com.
Field 54, Cloverleaf 53
CLOVERLEAF 5 8 22 18 — 53
FIELD 9 17 8 20 — 54
Cloverleaf— Nate Riley 0-2-2, Nick Bailey 2-4-8, Sylar Jones 3-4-10, Cruz Severson 1-4-6, Brycen Holliday 4-4-13, Matt Tanko 5-3-14, Tyler Webb 0-0-0, Ashton Newton 0-0-0. TOTALS: 15-21-53.
Field — Jacob Gartner 1-3-5, Jaheim Jones 5-5-16, Jordan McComb 0-0-0, Jacob Lupardus 2-3-7, Carter Baumberger 1-5-8, Nevada Lowden 2-0-6, Kyle Knapp 0-0-0, Connor Chestnut 0-0-0, Logan Citraro 2-3-7, Mason Campanelli 2-1-5. TOTALS: 15-20-54.
3-point goals — Holliday, Tanko, Lowden 2, Baumberger, James. Rebounds — Field 29 (Jones 7), Cloverleaf 24 (Jones 7). Assists — Field 7 (Baumberger 3), Cloverleaf 6 (Severson 3). Records — Cloverleaf (6-5, 3-3), Field (2-7, 2-4) Junior varsity — Field 41, Cloverleaf 32.